Maintaining and crossing cultural boundaries in the karaoke bar through ironic consumption
Cultural Sociology , Volume 12 - Issue 1 p. 58- 74
When existing cultural boundaries seem to blur, people will look for alternative ways to express their identities. Recent research has shown that aesthetic dispositions (how one consumes culture) may be more significant than taste preferences (what is consumed). Sociologists therefore wonder whether distinction might be going underground. Elaborating on this issue, we examine the role of irony in cultural consumption through nine in-depth interviews with karaoke participants contacted in two bars in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as we suspect that the ironic attitude is ideally suited to crossing cultural boundaries and, at the same time, to upholding class boundaries by distancing oneself from cultural activities that are considered enjoyable yet incongruent with one’s identity. We indeed found large differences in how people performed and appreciated karaoke, which aligned with their levels of cultural capital.